Welcome to the webbed and wired edition of R&R, aristotle. We’ll be doing the same sort of song and dance here as we do in print: reviewing the latest comics and cartoon-related books and ranting about trends and abuses and unfathomable foolishnesses. Each installment will stay here for about four weeks, with a new one coming in just about every other week or so. If you don’t have the time to ponder every punctuation mark in this deathless prose and merely want to see what might be there that would interest you, we suggest you scroll down the page looking for the bold-face type that heralds the notables who reside herein this week. So here we go with Opus 376 (and a reprise of Opus 375):
Opus 376 (completed on February 27, 2018). We celebrate Black History Month with reports on the box office successes of the “Black Panther” movie, but 30% of this posting is devoted to a continuation of the symposium on sexual harassment that we started in early January. We begin with a collection of classic sexual harassment cliche cartoons and end by offering a cure for the malady (for us, not for cartoons). We also examine editoons on the Trumpet’s military parade proposal, the shooting at a Florida high school, and our rabid gun culture, and we resume our usual reports on the unusual and oft verboten antics in newspaper funnies. We review six new books, including several John Cullen Murphy related tomes and Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel, Roughneck. To help you find what you’d like to read about (and what you’d like to avoid in this lengthy disquisition), here’s what’s here, in order, by department—:
NOUS R US
Black Panther Sets New Box Office Records
Sequel to John Lewis’s March Trilogy
Report on the Rall Case
Marvel Escapes the Missile
Black Panther and Racial Education
FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE
Catching Up With—:
Batman White Knight
Kill or Be Killed
Shenanigans of the Month—:
Zapiro Zaps Zuma One Last Time
The Trumpet’s Military Parade
Mass Murder at Florida High School
Gun Culture: Who’s Crazier?
Two Editoonists Respond
NEWSPAPER COMICS PAGE VIGIL
The Unusual and Verboten in the Funnies
Short Reviews of—:
The Art of James Montgomery Flagg
The Best of Hagar the Horrible
Cartoon County (Fairfield, Connecticut Cartoonists)
Big Ben Bolt (reprints of the strip)
The Prince Valiant Page
(And a Valiant Try-Out that Failed)
Recent Single Panel Magazine Cartooning in—:
The New Yorker
Jeff Lemire’s Roughneck
William Overgard’s Rudy and His Shanghai Tango Novel
ONWARD, THE SPREADING PUNDITRY
Another Classic Sexual Harassment Cliche
More Cases of Sexual Harassment
What To Do
Thinking With Your Pecker
Shaun White and Excellence v Bad Behavior
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
If Not of A Lifetime
“Goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”—Kurt Vonnegut
Our Motto: It takes all kinds. Live and let live.
Wear glasses if you need ’em.
But it’s hard to live by this axiom in the Age of Tea Baggers,
so we’ve added another motto:.
Seven days without comics makes one weak.
(You can’t have too many mottos.)
And our customary reminder: when you get to the $ubscriber/Associate Section (perusal of which is restricted to paid subscribers), don’t forget to activate the “Bathroom Button” by clicking on the “print friendly version” so you can print off a copy of just this installment for reading later, at your leisure while enthroned. Without further adieu, then, here we go—:
NOUS R US
Some of All the News That Gives Us Fits
“BLACK PANTHER” GIVES “BLOCKBUSTER” A NEW DIMENSION
February is Black History Month and “Black Panther” is making a big chunk of it. The box office records that the movie has set on its opening weekend are almost too many to mention: the best February opening ever, best President’s Day weekend total ever, best solo superhero launch ever, and the biggest non-sequel launch of all-time.
Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna toted up the numbers that support these extravagant
Directed by Ryan Coogler, “Black Panther” is the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — all of which have opened at No.1 — but it is not connected to the studio’s other superhero characters.
“Black Panther” also scored the biggest pre-summer three-day debut, and is just the fifth film to debut north of $200 million (not adjusting for inflation), topped only by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($248 million), “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” ($220 million), “Jurassic World” ($208.8 million) and “The Avengers” ($207.4 million).
“Black Panther” opened on more than 4,000 screens and enjoyed the biggest Presidents’ Day four-day opening ever, with a domestic debut of at least $235 million, reports Box Office Mojo. The film was powered in part by the second-largest Thursday preview night ever ($25.2 million), as well as the second-biggest Sunday in film history ($60.1 million), notching just behind “The Force Awakens” ($60.6 million), reports Variety.
Overseas “Black Panther” earned $169 million to bring its 3-day global total to $361 million. Coogler’s film is yet to open in China, Japan, or Russia, but don’t be surprised if “Black Panther” does the majority of its damage in North America, a pattern that is typical of superhero films that introduce relatively new characters to the world audience.
AND IT KEEPS ON KEEPING ON, through the second weekend. "Black Panther" is expected to reach the $400 million mark on Sunday, February 25, posting an estimated $108 million on its second weekend. That gives it a new record for the best pre-summer second weekend in box office history, and beats the Marvel Cinematic Universe record for second weekends held by "The Avengers" with $103 million. The only film ever to post a bigger second frame is "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" with $149.2 million.
After just ten days in theaters, "Black Panther" has surpassed the domestic runs of all of last year's Marvel films, including the $389 million made by "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." It currently ranks fifth among all MCU films, and will pass "Iron Man 3" for the No. 3 spot on the list by Tuesday at the latest.
Worldwide, "Black Panther" now has a total of $704 million, keeping its overseas drop to 42 percent with $83.8 million grossed in 49 markets. The film now ranks tenth globally among all MCU films, passing "Doctor Strange" and "Ant-Man" on the charts and putting it in position to pass the $714 million total for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" tomorrow. It is also the fastest MCU film to gross $50 million on IMAX screens worldwide, adding $15 million this weekend to bring its total to $54.6 million. Japan is the next to get release this weekend, followed by China on March 9.
If the numbers make you dizzy, you can always just do a happy dance while sitting down. I do it all the time.
This year’s Free Comic Book Day is May 5, the first Saturday in May. To celebrate, your local comic shop will have various selections of funnybooks that the publishers have printed just to give away.
CONTINUING THE MARCH OF JOHN LEWIS
Abrams ComicArts is piggybacking on the success of Congressman John Lewis’s acclaimed National Book Award-winning civil rights graphic memoir, the March trilogy: on August 14, 2018, Abrams will bring out a sequel, Run: Book One, which takes up Lewis’s life where March left off.
Calvin Reid at publishersweekly.com reports that the forthcoming multiple-volume graphic memoir will focus on the years that Lewis led the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), one of the most important organizations of the Civil Rights Movement. The book will focus on the aftermath of the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, including events around one of the largest Ku Klux Klan marches of the time, disputes over SNCC tactics, the Vietnam War and the rise of the Black Power movement.
In a statement, Congressman Lewis said: “In sharing my story, it is my hope that a new generation will be inspired by Run to actively participate in the democratic process and help build a more perfect union here in America.”
Run: Book One will also add a new member to Lewis’s creative team: artist Afua Richardson will succeed Nate Powell, who created the artwork for March, and who will also contribute to the new work. Richardson is an award-winning comics artist who has created art for such works as Genius, Black Panther: World of Wakanda, and Attack on Titan.
RALL’S REPORT ON HIS CASE
Ted Rall provides the following update on the progress (or on the legal maneuverings) of his case against the Los Angeles Times, which defamed him and then fired him in the summer of 2015; for the whole ugly story, visit Opus 342a. Here’s Rall’s report—:
My new legal team has filed an Appellate Brief with the California Court of Appeals in a bid to overturn a lower-court ruling in favor of the Tronc/ LA Times' anti-SLAPP motion, as well as an order that I pay the Times $350,000 for their legal fees. Anti-SLAPP rulings are automatically appealable in California, and are viewed "de novo" (with fresh eyes) by the higher court.
There were numerous errors of law and fact in the lower-court ruling, some of them substantial. For example, the judge ruled that the enhanced tape proves that I told the truth in my blog post, not the Los Angeles Police Department or the Times. If it stands, his ruling would mark a radical change in California case law because it states that media outlets have an absolute privilege to fire people and defame them as part of their First Amendment protections. It would even allow newspapers to discriminate by race or gender or sexual orientation without recourse. So even if I were willing to let this matter go, there is too much at stake for me to do so. It would mark the end of libel and defamation law in the state.
The Times has at least 90 days to respond. Then we have 20 days to respond to their response. We do not anticipate the Court of Appeals to hear my appeal before 2019.
happens next: If the Times wins, I will owe them the $350,000 plus
MARVEL ESCAPES THE MISSILE
It’s difficult to imagine what sort of response Marvel expected when it announced a partnership with Northrop Grumman, the fifth largest defense contractor in the world. But, reports Charles Pulliam-Moore at io9.gizmodo.com, “the publisher’s decision to axe the deal following a swift wave of backlash suggests that it didn’t anticipate people being turned off.”
The proposed comic was supposed to be the sort of promotional explicitly-branded tie-in that Marvel did with Mars to promote M&Ms by having the candy characters team up with Iron Man. But, said Pulliam-Moore, “there’s a very big difference between advertising candy and advertising missiles, one of Northrop Grumman’s more widely-known products.”
In a public statement, Marvel explained that the planned comic book that would have seen the Avengers team up with a group of Northrop Grumman employees, was “meant to focus on aerospace technology and exploration in a positive way.” Critics of the partnership insisted that in partnering with a defense contracting company, Marvel was effectively marketing the military to a young audience—a message decidedly at odds with characters like Tony Stark’s views on the military-industrial complex.
So Marvel abandoned the project.
“BLACK PANTHER” AND THE DILEMMAS OF RACIAL EDUCATION
In a racist society like ours, the success of a movie about a black superhero is bound to raise racist hackles. Of one kind or another. But the kind that caught our eye seems almost refreshing. White kids are buying Black Panther costumes and dressing up as the character as if race where not at all a factor. The costumes were in toy stores before the movie opened (and on Amazon).
“At best,” observes Kwame Opam at nytimes.com, “the character get-ups speak to the enthusiastic embrace of a black superhero. At worst, they could be perceived as an unwitting form of cultural appropriation, which has in recent years become a subject of freighted discourse.”
“As parents, or even as the people creating costumes, we need to be very aware of what that says,” said Brigitte Vittrup, an associate professor of early childhood development and education at Texas Woman’s University. “There’s not a whole lot of black superheroes, so this is a really important thing, especially for black kids growing up.”
Many parents are split on how Black Panther’s blackness should figure into their children’s relationship to the character. Some argue that placing racial boundaries around expressions of fandom is unnecessary.
“I’m actually wondering now what it might be like for that parent who’s not of color if his kid comes home and says, ‘I want to dress up like Black Panther,’” said Katrina Jones, 39, the director of human resources at Vimeo. “When I look at it, I see no reason why a kid who’s not black can’t dress like Black Panther. Just like our kid who’s not white dresses up like Captain America. I think the beautiful thing about comics is they do transcend race in a lot of ways.”
“For a white kid to be so open and judge based on the character’s story and the personality and history, I think that’s what’s important,” said Mary Dimacali, 29, a social media and marketing manager. “But on the flip side, I think it’s also great to have a black superhero you can identify and connect to.”
“Kids are not colorblind,” Vittrup said. “There’s a lot of structural inequality in our society, and kids are noticing that. By not mentioning it, by not talking about it, we’re essentially preserving the status quo.”
She was careful to add that dressing as Black Panther isn’t inherently appropriative or offensive. The character comes from an invented African country, and to wear his mask isn’t quite the same as wearing blackface. However, in a moment where even more black heroes, like Luke Cage and Black Lightning, are finding their way into the limelight, Black Panther’s relationship with the black community and its history creates an opportunity to teach nonblack children about the black experience.
Fascinating Footnit. Much of the news retailed in the foregoing segment is culled from articles indexed at https://www.facebook.com/comicsresearchbibliography/, and eventually compiled into the Comics Research Bibliography, by Michael Rhode, which covers comic books, comic strips, animation, caricature, cartoons, bandes dessinees and related topics. It also provides links to numerous other sites that delve deeply into cartooning topics. For even more comics news, consult these four other sites: Mark Evanier’s povonline.com, Alan Gardner’s DailyCartoonist.com, Tom Spurgeon’s comicsreporter.com, and Michael Cavna at voices.washingtonpost.com./comic-riffs . For delving into the history of our beloved medium, you can’t go wrong by visiting Allan Holtz’s strippersguide.blogspot.com, where Allan regularly posts rare findings from his forays into the vast reaches of newspaper microfilm files hither and yon.
You can’t shame or humiliate modern celebrities. What used to be called shame and humiliation is now called publicity. And forget traditional character assassination. If you say a modern celebrity is an adulterer, a pervert and a drug addict, all it means is that you’ve read his autobiography. —P.J. O’Rourke
Often celebrity is a lead weight around your neck. It’s like you pointing at the moon, but people are looking at your finger. —Sting
FUNNYBOOK FAN FARE
Instead of looking at brand new comics/issues this time, we’re going to catch up on what’s happening with Motor Girl (which ends with the 10th issue), Batman White Knight, Doomsday Clock and Kill or Be Killed. ... To Find out How These Titles Are Progressing, To See How the Nation’s Editoonists Are Bashing Gun Lovers and What Newspaper Comics Are Doing to Knock Down Old Barriers, To Read Reviews of Six New Books and To Ponder the Problems of (And Possible Solution To) Sexual Harassment— and More, Much More— Click Here
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